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Detra’s story

Part 3

“A month before we got married I was sitting with my husband in a gravel lot behind the old Hidden Valley Catfish Restaurant. He said: ‘Detra, you’re a strong woman. Do you plan on being a submissive wife?’ I told him that I certainly would try my best. And he said: ‘Well if I can’t conquer you, God will.’ For our honeymoon we went to Eureka Springs and saw a live performance of The Passion of The Christ. The day we got home I moved my one box of things into his apartment. While he was at work I began to decorate. I laid out some of our wedding gifts. There wasn’t much, but I made it beautiful. And I couldn’t wait until he got home to see it. But he wasn’t smiling when he walked in the door. He said: ‘You touched my things.’ He made me put everything back. For the next 34 years of my life, I never felt like I had my own space. My only escape was music. I was the pianist for my husband’s church: at weddings I’d play my joy, at funerals I’d play my pain. It was the one thing that allowed my soul to stretch. Each of our seven children were musical, so we formed a band called Heart for Home and did it full time as a travelling ministry. Over an eight-year period we travelled across sixteen states in a fifteen-passenger van. Everyone played a different instrument. And I must say, we were good at what we did. We’d open every service with three bluegrass songs from the Heavenly Highways Hymnal. Then my husband would bring out the puppets, to loosen people up. After the puppets we moved onto the sermon. My husband preached the sermon. But not before I sang the special. I always sang the special. It was the one time I felt celebrated for being me. We came off the road after our oldest son Lucas joined the marines, and back in Arkansas I fell into a depression. I couldn’t lift a finger without a man’s permission. When I finally met with a therapist, she asked me the crucial question. She said: ‘Would you leave your husband if he was beating you? Because what he’s doing is worse than beating you.’ I’m ashamed to admit that I stayed for another eighteen months. Until that dusky dark evening, when I stepped out onto Interstate 40. And God pulled over to pick me up.”

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